Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Bad Guy

Still cranking away on Seattle Pizza, and still enjoying it...I find myself getting stuck often and often stare at the wall on the other side of my monitor for long periods of time, but it's coming eaiser, and I'm starting to understand my two MCs enough to speak for them consistently. I realized this week that I was missing something: a protaganist. My concept was that it would be these two guys who, in a roundabout way due to their work in paranormal investigations (I know, I'm a fount of originality!), find themselves in legal, my concept was that the bad guy was, in general, the law (and by proxy, the prosecutor). 

After watching Dark Knight again this week (awesome hype aside, I thought the Dark Knight/White Knight and Batman/Joker story arcs were brilliant, although they blew the movie when the Two Face story began), I realized how much more a complex, bona fide bad guy could add to the story. So, I'm going to do some rough outlining before I dig in again to see how it would's still early enough in the story that re-writing (a first draft no-no, I know) would be minimal. I'd love to do a super-sinister character, a la Mssrs. Vandermar and Croup...maybe a female baddie.

So, on the list before we're off to visit relatives for the holidays: at least 5k more written, read and respond to Cate's MS, and maybe a year-end post.

Lastly: I played this game earlier this year...The semi-cheesy MIDI music is addictive, and the graphics (once you get past the first level) are pretty cool. I woke up this morning with the piano riff in my head, and thought I'd share. Some of the levels are difficult, but the music is so hyper-mellow that it's like audio ganja...

Almost forgot to plug Barry Napier's web serial Blood Routes. I've read the first couple of posts, and it looks like an interesting story. I really like the concept of a web serial...I think it's a natural progression for literature. With the popularity of the Kindle picking up and it's blog-reading functionality (despite having to pay to register each blog...), it's really something for all short-story authors to consider.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No news is no news

No writing today, nor yesterday...over the last few weeks we've had a fresh influx of scorpions (Katy got a nasy sting Wednesday night), and I've spent the last couple of days sealing up the house like a ziploc baggie (the lastest in a four year effort). And, tonight is our tenth anniversary, and tomorrow is my 26th, no writing tonight. Once Amy gets home from work, we're off to have dinner at a place in the Palms Casino called Little Buddha.

Since learning about winning the critque from Apex, I've been pushing to get as much done on Seattle Pizza as possible so I can at least present a second draft of the first half of the book, and not writing for more than a day makes me feel tremendously stressed out.

But, duty calls...I had to at the very least blog today so I didn't feel entirely worthless for writing work.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What a strange thing to pay for...

So, Jamie was the first to tell me this afternoon that Apex drew names for their charity auction, and Jeremy winned something! Woots all around! (Jamie won too, which also rocks).

Something pretty gee-darned cool, too. If memory serves, they had like 4 or 5 critiques of varying lengths offered, and I bought 2-3 tickets for each one. The one I scored is with Apex Editor Mari Adkins, and it's for up to 30k words. And I need this point in my would-be career, that is probably what I need the most (besides not dancing about writing). So now, I just need to grind through a long enough manuscript to give her something to read. I am having a lot of fun with The Seattle Pizza Company; that's the one I want her to critique.

Isn't there something kind of BDSM-ish about paying someone to tell me how bad my writing is?

In other news, I started Douglas Clegg's Afterlife, and am having trouble getting into it. I did OK until two characters engaged in a dialogue, and they used langage that bugged me for some reason. It just didn't seem like a real discussion, like Clegg had never actually heard two people in that circumstance have that kind of intimate discussion. Or maybe my life experiences would have forced me to write it differently. But, Clegg is a well-liked author and obviously leaps and bounds more successful than I at the just struck me at how easy it is for language to derail what could be a very good story.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Clearing, and Thoughts on the Industry

As of last night, my second accepted story, Clearing, is online! You can click here to get to it directly (with no way to back out to their main site...I think Abandoned Towers is one of the last of the heavily-frame-laden websites in the web-o-tron), or you can go to the Abandoned Towers site, and click on the Science Fiction section on the left.

I tend to be pretty laid back with a lot of things in life: for example, I program in PHP as a hobby; I know a little bit and can build most any functional thing, but I have no desire to become the best programmer that I can be; it just doesn't mean enough to me to take classes, read books, and stay up late for months-on-end and become a world-class über-programmer...I don't need to see the matrix, I just want to make a button that will generate a report.

Writing, however, isn't that way for me. It's become one of those things that, at least once a decade or so, I will become obsessed with (business was that way for me once, and that took me from being jobless and homeless during a chilly Oregon winter to seven years in business school and, eventually, a VP-level job in banking). I really, really want to do it as well as I possibly can and hope to do it for a living someday, and I love studying other writers' work and sponging up industry knowledge to learn what works and what doesn't.

To that end, as I mentioned to CJ earlier, I have been stalking agent and publisher blogs for a couple of weeks now. This has been a very valuable exercise. In that short time, I've gained some insights into what is selling, what seems to be declining, and general gut-check info from folks who are elbow-deep in manuscripts and New York publishing house drama (First Five Pages-type info). One thing I've learned, which I'm sure is no surprise, is that the publishing world is getting slayed by the economy, and some publishers have stopped, more or less, accepting manuscripts. And that sucks. So, I guess I could have picked a better time to try and get published for the first time; but, I guess it's tough all over (banking is no picnic right now, for sure). But, as one agent wrote, it's a good opportunity to wait out the recession and knock out a couple of manuscripts, submit to agents for, if nothing else, feedback, and keep grinding the axe.

But, I suppose I'm not all that worried about the selling part now, as I am yet to complete a full manuscript. That is definitely putting the cart first, but I guess it all becomes part of the long-term strategy. The important part of writing is...well, writing.

And, like Steve Martin said: talking about music is like dancing about architecture...same goes with writing. So, I'm off to the Land of Words...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tag from CJ

Tagged from Cate's blog: the who the hell are you and what are you doing here post...

I feel kind of silly doing this since I've only been at this a short time (especially compared with the rest of the folks on the left nav of this page), but I feel guilty reading everyone else's stat sheets without, without further ado:
  • Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 24...I had a blast writing papers in college on my rusty little typewriter and got great feedback (the one kind of cinched it for me was a history prof who was impressed with my essay on pre-war German culture; he asked me where I went to H.S., and when I told him I dropped out in my sophomore year and got my G.E.D. years later, I guess he was so taken with my untrained writing style over the semester that he let me skip the final exam with a 4.0 and the reward-for-writing synapse formed instantly...I continued on to an MBA and became a banker, which is about as far from a creative writer as you can get)
  • Age when I wrote my first story: I started about a dozen, but didn't actually knuckle down to finish one for another 11 years: 35...I had zero confidence in my ability to write and got caught up in my day job and raising kids for the next decade.
  • Age when I first submitted a short story to a magazine: 35 became my do-it-now-or-forget-it-forever age for writing.
  • Age when I sold my first short story: 35 (Billy Don't Like Clowns to Niteblade)
  • Total number of submissions: 14
  • Total acceptances: 2
  • Thickness of file of rejection slips prior to first story sale: zero...the first story I wrote was the first story I submitted, and also my first acceptance. Sounds way cooler than it is...I was extremely lucky.
  • Number of short stories/novelettes/novellas sold for cash money: One...Billy sold for $1, which I donated to Ralan anyway (that was one of Niteblade's payment options).
  • Poems sold: zip...I enjoy story-style poetry like Sherman Alexie's early work, but poetry, for the most part, is beyond my understanding
  • Age when I started writing my first novel: 30
  • Age when I started writing my first completed novel: Haven't finished one yet
  • Age I finished that novel: Well, since I'll be 36 in less than a week, I'm going to be optimistic and say 36.
  • Age I started my second novel: NA
  • Age I finished my second novel: NA
  • Age when I sold a first novel: NA
  • Total number of novels written: Finished? Nada.
  • Books sold: 0
  • Books in the process of querying: 0
  • Short stories in the slush: 2 shorts and 1 screenplay
  • Short stories written this year: 8 stories and 1 screenplay
  • Age when I became a full-time novelist: (shakes magic 8-ball): "Reply Hazy, Try Again Later"
  • Age now: 35

Monday, December 1, 2008

Remember, Remember, the month of November

OK, time for the November roundup...

  • Mrs. Marsupial's Tea Party, written and submitted to the Cafe Doom contest in October, took the silver medal for good behavior at Cafe Doom...subbed it to Clarkesworld (rejected), and is now in-slush with Sybil's Garage.
  • Started and completed Contract of Men, which now sits with GUD.
  • Started and completed Filtered White Light, out with AGNI.
  • Started and completed The Tucker Farm Incident for Dark Jesters (also pending).
  • Knocked out about 20k of Mojave, doubted my storyline, and put it aside to simmer.
  • Clearing (version 2.2) (does everyone version their stories, or just me?) accepted for the online edition of Abandoned Towers
  • Inspired by the story started in Tucker Farm, started a new story-of-indeterminate-length called Seattle Pizza Company v. The State of Washington. I knocked out about 3100 words last night, which I think is my one-day record.
Given that I got one acceptance and some positive feedback for Mrs. M, I'm calling November a success.

In addition to working an insanely busy job in banking, raising a family, trying to keep my old house from falling over, having a year-round infatuation with Halloween special effects, and trying to break into writing, I also do some programming on the side, and just knocked out a massive project that has been dogging me for over a month--which frees up a little more time for the other things on the list, and takes the stress quotient down a bit.

It's 8:30am on the west coast, and is now time to concentrate on the job that pays the bills. Tonight, back to the Seattle Pizza Company.